Speech during the 16th Grand Alumni Homecoming, Isabela National High School Class of 1984
Were I to present myself, it would bas a country bumpkin born and raised in a little known town in Cavite.
I have gone around the country a few times and talked to a great number of people of different social, political and economic backgrounds – none of these are possible if not for a dream.
Minsan, nangarap ang dalawang magulang na mapag-aral ang kanilang walong anak.
Dahil sa isang munting pangarap, nakapagaral kaming walong magkakapatid at hindi lang nakaraos nguni’t lumaki pa nang maayos.
But such were the good old days of my youth where the government served as the great social equalizer.
Maayos na mga paaralan, malusog ang mga mamamayan, these were not just campaign slogans.
It was a reality for millions of people like me who grew up in the shadows of World War II.
Over time, the dedication to public service has all but disappeared in government.
Words like accountability, transparency and leadership are just catch phrases rehashed every election but clearly forgotten once these officials are elected to their positions.
Almost 50 years later, we see a government that is not transparent, that is insensitive to the needs of the people, a government that does not deliver the necessary social services to our people, a government that steals, a government that abuses.
Almost every other month, like clockwork, we hear instances of corruption, both large and small scale, but nothing happens after they are initially investigated, if at all.
For example, we investigated in the Senate the fertilizer scam.
Out of the total project cost of P728 million in government funds, P645 million went to the greedy pockets of a few while only less than a hundred million actually went to benefit our farmers – I think most of you here can relate to the frustration since Isabela is agriculture-based municipality.
Whenever I am asked about the country’s top problem, I always single out corruption.
For it is corruption that drains resources that should go to proper irrigation system and better roads for our farmers and proper equipment and training for our doctors and teachers, for example.
The main headquarters of IRRI is in the Philippines but our farmers have not benefited from its expertise and years of research. It is ironic and embarrassing that we have to import rice and suffer through food shortages.
Kung nasa top 5 tayo sa buong Asia noon, ngayon nangangamote tayo.
It is corruption that is killing our country, it is corruption that will continue to killus unless you and I, alumni of Ilagan National High School, citizens of this country, join hands and be united in fighting against corruption.
The school is the perfect training ground for the real world.
Within these walls we are taught about truth and consequences.
We know that if we don’t study, tiyak bagsak tayo sa mga pagsusulit, bagsak tayo sa exams. Inversely, if we perform well, we are justly rewarded.
Yan sana ang dapat mangyari sa totoong buhay – kung hindi mo kayang gampanan ang iyong tungkulin bilang elected official, dapat kang ipatalsik o di kaya’y huwag nang iboto sa susunod na halalan.
Pero hanggang patuloy na nakapikit ang mga mata ng nakararami sa nangyayaring katiwalian sa ating bansa at patuloy nating iboboto ang mga tiwali sa pamahalaan, wala akong nakikitang pag-unlad para sa ating lahat.
Through hardships and under constant threat of political ostracism, I expose the excesses and abuses of our leaders, but I am only one voice.
There is strength in numbers and if you can join me in exposing corruption, it will go a long way in cleaning up our bureaucracy.
As concerned citizens of this country, bilang mamamayang may malasakit sa ating bansa, lalong lalo na sa mga mahihirap, there are three things we simply cannot do: one, be victims; two, be abusers; or three, bystanders.
This is the time that we show people in government that it is us who put them in office and we could easily take their power away once they stop representing the will of the people.
This is the time, not later, not tomorrow, but now.
You know, I do not wish to detract from the importance of this moment.
As alumni, you have been a part of this high school’s illustrious history – indeed, you deserve the accolades of your fellow peers, teachers and guests that are gathered here today.
Papurihan po rin natin ang mga magulang na minsan nangarap at nagsilbing gabay sa ating pag-aaral. Kung tutuusin hindi biro ang magpaaral, then and most especially now, and we salute them.
But let us not forget those who cannot be here with us today.
Iyong karamihan sa ating mga kabataang napilitang huminto sa pag-aaral dahil salat sa yaman ngayo’y nagiging biktima ng ganid sa iilan sa ating pamahalaan. These people will never experience what all of you are experiencing right now, a fair play at life’s opportunities.
A diploma is more than just a passport to success; rather, it is an instrument that we can use to do good, to build a better world not only for ourselves but for those less privileged.
There is only one accident in this world, and that is the accident of being born rich or poor.
Everything else in life is a conscious choice.
Naniniwala ako sa angking kagalingan ng mga taong nasa pagtipon natin ngayon. Nguni’t nawawalang saysay ang kagalingang ito kung hindi naibabahagi upang magbigay saysay sa buhay ng ibang tao.
You have officially become adults in your years and with that the responsibility to make choices that will have a profound effect on others.
I would like to close this speech not by offering any advice but a plea – help.
Continue to fight against corruption.
Help build this country.
But most especially, choose to help by electing better leaders.
Thank you very much and Godspeed!